TEL AVIV – The U.S. is fully aware of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s flat rejection of the creation of a Palestinian state along with his plans to extend Israeli law to West Bank settlements, the Israeli premier said on Monday.
In an interview with Channel 12, Netanyahu pushed back against his main challenger Benny Gantz’s claims that his vow to annex the West Bank was nothing more than an empty campaign promise.
Netanyahu over the weekend historically declared that he fully intends to extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank. The incumbent prime minister also said he had told President Donald Trump that would not evacuate “a single person” from the 400,000 or so Jews residing in the West Bank.
Gantz on Sunday said Netanyahu’s statement was “meaningless” and no more than a last-minute bid for Likud to gain the upper hand over Gantz’s Blue and White party.
Netanyahu, however, countered that such radical moves did not happen overnight.
“Why did it take two years to get recognition of the Golan Heights even with such a friendly president? These things takes time,” said Netanyahu in reference to Trump’s presidential order last month recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
Netanyahu said annexation of the West Bank would happen in three stages and he hoped to do it with “full American support.”
“I discussed [annexation] with representatives of President Trump and I expressed my belief that there is no other option, I think it is also the right move,” he said.
“I want to do it gradually. If possible, I want to do it with full American support,” the prime minister added.
“It is going to happen,” he stated. “This isn’t something I invented for the elections.”
“I was under incredible pressure from the Obama administration — that no prime minister has ever had — to cease construction in the [West Bank] … and yet I withstood them and we continued building and now we will continue,” he said.
Netanyahu also told Army Radio that the Palestinians would not have a state or security control.
“There will be no Palestinian state,” he said, “not like the one people are talking about. It won’t happen.”